29 September 2008

Triumph of the Mouse

Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels gave Adolph Hitler 18 Mickey Mouse cartoons for Christmas in 1937.

There's something to add to fun facts to know and tell about the world's most reviled dictator (how about a shout out to Joe Stalin?). Der Fuhrer loved dogs, small children and had a weakness for pastries. Hitler was a vegetarian.

Still this business about him loving Mickey Mouse cartoons is a little bit too weird to comprehend. Am I wrong about this? Would anyone say, "yeah I kind of figured Hitler would be a sucker for Mickey?" Are you wondering if, had he not taken his own life, Adolph would have enjoyed a visit to Disneyland? Did he like Pluto (must have if he liked dogs) too? What about Goofy? And was he blind to his own resemblance to Donald Duck?

I'm sure Hitler would have drawn the line at Warner Brothers cartoons. Especially Bugs Bunny (much too American) and most especially when they went all anti Nazi. Daffy Duck must have been too black for him.

Evidently Hitler loved to watch films late at night. Besides cartoons I'm not sure what else he liked. I'm sure he was no fan of Fritz Lang, whose films the Nazis banned.

There's a well known story about a copy of Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940) being smuggled into Germany via Portugal for Hitler's viewing. After watching it he immediately had it run a second time. The epitaph to the story is always "history did not record his reaction to the film..." Damn that's frustrating. Another use for a time machine. Find out how he reacted. Did it give him pause? At all Just for a second? Did he chuckle once, twice? Or was he all laughed out from his Mickey Mouse collection?

We know one film he really liked, Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935).

There's been much debate over the years whether this should be considered a great film given it's glorification of the Nazi regime. To me its analogous to a physically beautiful woman who is a serial killer. She still can be admired for her beauty, if you can get past that whole murdering innocent people thing. I find Triumph of the Will utterly fascinating as film making and utterly repulsive for what it celebrates. Most of all though it's an important historical document.

I wonder if Hitler would warm up for watching it with a Mickey Mouse cartoon?

1 comment:

Chas Coffman said...

It is very interesting (and disturbing) to see that even the most villianous of individuals can have a love for simpler things like cartoons and puppies. However, I don't know if you made the commentout of ignorance or sarcasm, but Hitler was a great lover of Fritz Lang films. Metropolis and Die Niebelungen were two of Hitler's favorite films of all time. In fact, there have alwas been rumors that after the completion of M, Goebbel offered Lang to be head director of Nazi propaganda films they would be developing at the time. The rumor continues to say Lang left that very night for Paris in horror of the proposal, though later he would return to Germany on several other occasions. That rejection to the offer may be the reason the films were banned, but I'm not cetain.